James Prescott Joule

James Prescott Joule

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James Prescott Joule was born December 24, in 1818.

James Joule was born into the wealthy brewing family of Benjamin and Alice Joule.

In 1847 James Joule married Amelia Grimes, a daughter of the Liverpool Comptroller of Customs.
James Joule and Amelia had three children: Benjamin Arthur (born 1849), Alice Amelia (born 1852) and a son who died in 1854 along with his wife during child birth.

In 1843 James Joule read his paper to the British Association, entitled "On the Calorific Effects of Magneto-Electricity and on the Mechanical Value of Heat." This paper described the physical constant that showed that heat was a form of energy. This constant is known as "J", or "Joule's Equivalent." The unit of heat, work and internal energy are measured in joules (J).

James Prescott Joule died October 11 in 1889. James Joule is buried in Westminster Abbey along with other famous people.

Those Who Inspired

John Dalton
James Joule was tutored as a young boy by John Dalton:

John Dalton was a well known Chemist and Physicist.

John Dalton was born September 6 in 1766 and died July 27 in 1844.

John Dalton is most recognized for his findings, which later is known as "the atomic theory".

The atomic theory is the theory of the nature of matter. It states that: "all matter is composed of atoms."

Lord Kelvin
James Joule worked with Lord Kelvin on experiments, which later became know as the Joule-Thomson Effect:

Lord Kelvin was a well known Mathematical Physicist.

The well known "Lord Kelvin" born as William Thomson, June 26 in 1824 and later died December 17 in 1907.

William Thomson later became the 1st Baron Kelvin, he was known as "Lord Kelvin."

Lord Kelvin is most recognized for his work in thermodynamics and Kelvin temperature scale.

Rudolf Julius Emanuel Clausius
James Joule was inspired by the work of Rudolf Julius Emanuel Clausius:

Rudolf Julius Emanuel Clausius was a Physicist and a Mathematician.

Rudolf Julius Emanuel Clausius was born January 2 in 1822, and died August 24 in 1888.

Rudolf Julius Emanuel Clausius is most recognized for his work in thermodynamics.

Rudolf Julius Emanuel Clausius introduced the concept of entropy.

The Experiments (Known Today as Research)

Paddle Wheel Experiment

James Joule's Paddle Wheel Experiment determined the existence of a relation between heat and mechanical work. He established this by a method involving the churning water in a calorimeter by means of paddles driven by various falling weights. Through this experiment James Joule established what we call today the First Law of Thermodynamics.

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Related Searches

The First Law of Thermodynamics

"The First Law of Thermodynamics" is sometimes known as the law of conservation of energy. This law states that energy cannot be created nor destroyed; it can only be converted from one form to another.

Joule's Law


Joule's law gives that the amount of heat Q liberated by current I flowing through a resistor with resistance R for a time t.

Joule-Thomson Effect

The Joule-Thomson effect is named after James Prescott Joule and William Thomson (Lord Kelvin).
This experiment is based on the fact that non-ideal gasses exhibit cohesion. When these gasses are expanded, the interactions end. This will generally cost energy. This energy is drained from the environment causing it to cool down.
The effect is commonly observed in spray cans (deodorant, paint) but is also used in refrigerators and air-conditioners.

Inventions and Explanations

Electric or Arc welding

James Joule is attributed with the invention of arc welding.

Arc or Electric Welding is welding by using an electric current to melt both the metal to be welded and the welding rod or electrode that is being added.

The Green Flash

James Joule is attributed with explaining the well talked about Green Flash (in our class by Dr. Newman.) James Joule explained the green flash in a letter to the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society in 1869.

The green flash occurs because the atmosphere acts like a prism. The "prism" refracts the sunlight and separates it into different colors. As the sun sets, the red and orange light, which are refracted the least, disappear first. The green light is in generally the middle of the spectrum, it is usually the last color to be seen by someone watching a sunset. At sunrise the phenomenon is reversed, with the green flash appearing first.

The Displacement Pump

James Joule is attributed with the invention of the displacement pump.

The displacement pump is a apparatus that lifts, transfers, or increases the pressure of a fluid (gas or liquid) or create a vacuum in an enclosed space by the removal of a fluid (gas or liquid.)


The unit of "Joule" is used today to Honor him.

"Joule" is used as the International System unit to measure energy that is electrical, mechanical, and thermal.

Put It In Writing

The Works & Publications of Joule

Jan 1838

First paper published by Joule
On the construction of an electromagnetic motor and the improvement of electromagnets

Dec 1838

Description of an Electromagnetic Engine, with Experiments
On the measurement of work and the improvement of the strength of electromagnets

May 1839

Investigations in Magnetism and Electromagnetism
On how to construct a galvanometer and calibrate it using electrolysis. Introduces the equation M=E²W²

May 1840

On Electromagnetic Forces
Provides general rules for construction of electromagnets to produce greater power
Sum 1840 On the Production of Heat by Voltaic Electricity
States Joule's Law, standardizes measurement for work

Dec 1840

On Heat evolved by Metallic Conductors of Electricity and in the Cells of a Battery during Electrolysis
States that the calorific effects of equal quantities of transmitted electricity are proportional to the resistance against the current's passage

Nov 1841

On the Electric Origin of Heat and Combustion
Explains the effects of polarization and absorption in Voltaic cells

Mar 1842

Paper which shows the first research on heat and the connection between heat and electricity

Jan 1843

On the Heat evolved during the Electrolysis of Water
Shows that the same amount of electrical energy is consumed as the amount of heat that is released, states three obstacles to current flow

Aug 1843

On the Caloric Effects of Magneto-electrics, and on the Mechanical Value of Heat
On the relationship between heat and the mechanical effect. States that heat is a state of vibration


On Matter, Living Force, and Heat States that worked can be transformed into heat and heat can be transformed into work

1 J (Joule) = 0.738 ft (foot) . lb (Pound)

1 cal (Calorie) = 4.186 J

1 Btu (British Thermal Unit) = 1.054 x 10 3 J

1 eV (Electron Volt) = 1.6 x 10-19 J

1 kWh (Kilowatt - Hour) = 3.60 x 106 J

The Bibliography

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. "James Prescott Joule." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Prescott_Joule. March 15, 2005.

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. "John Dalton." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Dalton March 15, 2005.

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 'William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Thomson%2C_1st_Baron_Kelvin. March 15, 2005.

VisonLearning. "Energy." http://www.visionlearning.com/library/module_viewer.php?mid=46. March 15, 2005.

Manchester Library & Philosophical Society 2002. "James Prescott Joule (1818 - 1889): Converting work into heat." http://www.msim.org.uk/joule/further_info/further_info_8_biography.htm. March 15, 2005.

Scienceworld.wolfram.com. "Joule's Law." http://scienceworld.wolfram.com/physics/JoulesLaw.html. March 15, 2005.

Hyperdictionary. "Meaning of Joule's Law." http://www.hyperdictionary.com/dictionary/joule's+law. March 15, 2005.

Science Museum. "Joule's Paddle Wheel Apparatus (1849)." http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/collections/treasures/joules.asp. March 15, 2005.

Knowledge Rush. "Rudolf Clausius." http://www.knowledgerush.com/kr/encyclopedia/Rudolf_Clausius/. March 15, 2005.

Thales Cryogenics. "Joule-Thomson Effect." http://www.thales-cryogenics.com/glossary_joule-thomson.html. March 15, 2005.

James Prescott Joule Website. "The Works & Publications of Joule." http://www.msu.edu/~brennem2/joule/publications.htm. March 15, 2005.

Dictionary of Automotive Terms. "Arc Welding." http://www.100megsfree4.com/dictionary/car-dica.htm#ArcWelding. March 15, 2005.

Dictonary.Com. "Joule." http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=joule . March 15, 2005.

The Free Dictionary.Com. "Green Flash." http://columbia.thefreedictionary.com/green%20flash. March 15, 2005.

James Prescott Joule. http://www.zephyrus.co.uk/jamesjoule.html. March 15, 2005.

Serway, Raymond A. John W. Jewett Jr. "Physics for Scientists and Engineers." Thomson Brook Cole. 2004. CA, USA.

Encyclopedia.Com. "Displacement Pump." http://www.encyclopedia.com/searchpool.asp?target=displacement+pump. March 18, 2005.
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